Fr. Al Spilly, C.PP.S.
In a fast-changing, confusing, chaotic world, it is easy for us to get lost in the dark forest without finding a path that leads to light, stability and peace. Pope Paul VI wrote: “If you want peace, work for justice.” As disciples of the risen Lord Jesus, we turn to the Scriptures for guidance on how to strive for justice and peace.
After the ancient Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, God made a covenant with them at Mount Sinai and promised to take care of them fully. On their part, the people were to observe God’s commandments (torah). The purpose of torah is to help us establish, maintain and restore (when necessary) right relationships with self, our neighbor, the environment and God. Jesus sums up the torah: love God totally and your neighbor as yourself.
St. Paul reminds us that the Holy Spirit dwells within us because of our baptism and guides us to find our path through life in accord with the word of God.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus discusses the underlying purpose of torah and helps us to see the root causes of our sin, our injustices, our straying from the right path.
Today, Jesus challenges us to love our enemies and to pray for them. It is a sign of our times that such a mandate is both controversial and seemingly impossible to carry out. Jesus does not base his words on human nature but on God’s example. We are to seek dialogue, not revenge—willingness to listen to another’s views, not planning retaliation. Loving others does not mean warm, fuzzy feelings. It entails looking upon others with God’s eyes—and seeing them as created in God’s image. We are all children of God, sisters and brothers—without exception. The Holy Spirit will empower us to love others, even our enemies, if we open our minds and our hearts and allow the Word of God to take deep root in our lives and bring forth good and abundant fruit—of love.
Fr. Al Spilly, C.PP.S., lives at St. Charles Center in Carthagena, Ohio. He has taught Scripture at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and has given many Bible-based retreats and talks.